- Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
- Updated: May 01, 2015
Dalit women offer sweets at a function to mark the eve of the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar in New Delhi. (AP Photo)
The Maharashtra government’s purchase of a house in London where B R Ambedkar lived in 1921 while studying at the London School of Economics is in an advanced stage with formalities expected to be completed in the end of May, official sources said in London.
An independent survey of the house worth around 3.2 million pounds has been commissioned and a percentage of the purchase price paid. After some repair, the house will open as a museum with artefacts associated with the anti-caste discrimination crusader and a temporary home for visiting scholars.
The house is being acquired at a time when a large section of the Indian community in Britain is passionately divided on the issue of banning caste discrimination through an order under the Equality Act 2010 likely to be introduced in parliament after the 7 May elections.
“We hope the house will bring the Indian community in Britain further together. The acquisition is historical because it is not just a house but the emotions of all Indians are associated with it”, India’s deputy high commissioner Varinder Paul told Hindustan Times.
In January, after months of uncertainty, the Maharashtra government had moved quickly to place a bid for the house when it was put up for sale by an estate agent. Maharashtra education minister Vinod Tawde visited the house in Chalk Farm, northwest London.
The bid was taken forward by a visit this week by a team from the state comprising minister for social justice Rajkumar Badole, minister of state for social justice Dilip Kamble and principal secretary Ujjwal Uke.
As a museum and temporary accommodation for scholars, the house proposed to be run and managed through the Indian high commission.
The team from Maharashtra also had preliminary discussions with officials of the London School of Economics – where Ambedkar studied from 1921 to 1923 – to create a chair in his memory and two scholarships that will be funded by the state government, the sources said.